Your body is unique to you, so is your comfort. Factors such as our height, weight, natural sleep position, and personal preferences are all variables that play an important part in choosing sleep products to help to get a good night’s rest. Many people think they know what they like or want, surrounding mattress and pillow purchases, but many times, error in their investment can actually create a more uncomfortable situation.
Buckwheat pillows are a traditional Asian pillow created centuries ago as an answer to overall sleep health and comfort. The influences of this design have been gaining in popularity around the world, and The Sleep Judge Team has acquired a popularly reviewed Buckwheat Hullo Pillow to see if the claims surrounding this unique item is all that it’s hyped up to be. Our surprising results are found below.
Breakdown of the Hullo Pillow Company
Hulltex, the parent company of Hullo Pillows, is a Minnesota based business that specializes in Buckwheat Pillow products. Designed for comfort and made to last, Hullo Pillows are an all natural solution to your sleep. Aimed at responsible business practices, Hulltex strives to keep a low carbon footprint in their manufacturing processes and uses all organic materials and fabrics. They also donate a percentage of their proceeds to The Nature Conservancy.
The Hullo Buckwheat Pillow
Keeping simple with natural comfort in mind, the Hullo Pillow is made with quality materials to provide a long-lasting product. Available in multiple sizes for personal preferences, each is made with a 100% cotton twill casing and filled with organically sourced buckwheat husks for a unique, personalized comfort.
Taken from the 600-year-old Japanese tradition of the Sobakawa (or buckwheat) pillow, rather than let the hulls of the buckwheat seed go to waste, it became a popular filling for pillows and other comfort products. The durable yet springy give of the seed castoff makes for a long-lasting, unique surface- and provides personalized shaping to properly hold our head and neck in place through the night.
- Provides proper head and neck cervical alignment
- Helps with migraines and snoring
- Shapes extremely well
- Heavy weight
- Noise and feel takes time to get used to
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The Hullo Pillow came sealed in plastic and in a regular brown shipping box stamped with the brand name. Although I generally prefer not to advertise what is sitting on my porch, there really wasn’t anything noticeably special about the box, so I deemed it plain enough to pass the front porch inspection. The pillow fits nicely in the box so it wouldn’t roll around much, and the pillow was well settled without all the husks concentrated on one side or another. Obviously, some care has gone into making sure it ships well with a package that could easily shift in weight and be somewhat cumbersome and awkward.
My first impressions began when picking up the box. I was surprised at how heavy it felt knowing that there was only one pillow inside. Upon opening, I sort of felt like I was wrestling an oversized rice bag out of the plastic, and the thought of how this could be a comfortable sleep surface truly passed through my mind.
I have, however, learned that first impressions are truly not the best to go off to when it comes to personal comfort, and everything is worth a try. Having researched Buckwheat Pillows, I was curious to know what this aromatic claim I’ve read about. Although not strong, I could smell an earthy aroma that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. There definitely wasn’t anything chemical about it, but although many people very much enjoy the scent, for some reason it was not to my liking, and I couldn’t use the pillow until I had let it air out in the sun for a few days to allow it to dissipate. Although I can still smell it very slightly when I press my nose on the pillow, it is no longer unpleasant nor very noticeable.
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Features & Benefit Claims
The key features and benefit claims of a comfort product are what you should pay particular attention to before making an investment; and, if possible, personal reviews (like this one) of each of these details. This way you can better determine if this is something you may want to consider, especially if you have struggled with finding the perfect pillow in the past.
Organically Grown Buckwheat Hulls
Buckwheat is a seed grain native to Asian countries that serve as a staple fodder for animals, as well as a ground flour-like substance for making loaves of bread and other dishes. The seeds mature in a husk, which could be tossed aside as an organic refuse, but instead was found to be a useful filling for pillows and other comfort surface support. The durability, shape, and gentle give of the husks provide a unique feel to your sleep comfort, and I was truly surprised at how well it contoured under my weight and how easy it shaped to accommodate my head, neck, and shoulder.
A buckwheat hull filling is what makes these pillows what they are. Hullo uses American, organically grown buckwheat sources that are certified not to use herbicides or pesticides. They go through a rigorous cleaning process as well to ensure that no specks of dust, bugs, seeds, or chaffs are left behind before being used as a fill in the pillow.
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The Hullo Pillow comes in three sizes- a small, standard, and king. The measurements concerning these are respectively 20 x 14 inches, 20 x 26 inches, which is an industry standard size pillow, and 20 x 36 inches, as an industry king size measurement. I received the standard size to try out, which is pretty typical of what I am used to so I didn’t think anything about the size initially.
It became very clear to me that these pillows are traditionally small for a reason. The buckwheat hulls, although responsive to your weight and shape, do work best when manipulated to your personal comfort. They are meant to hold your head and neck stationary through the night and so a larger pillow truly isn’t needed. In my opinion, the larger the pillow, the more hulls you have to move around and manipulate, and although I did find the pillow comfortable, I would have appreciated less surface area to sleep upon.
These pillows are heavy, so much so that they don’t prop up well to lean against as the husks will settle with gravity, and they most definitely should not be used in a pillow fight. The company claims they use approximately 1 pound of husks for 200 cubic inches of volume. Since a standard pillow measures right around 20 x 26 x 3 inches total when full, this translates to approximately .903 cubic feet or 1560.4 cubic inches (1 cubic foot equals 1728 cubic inches). So my pillow should weigh in right around 7.8 pounds, which it did (give or take a few tenths) when measured on my scale.
Hullo follows the traditional adjustable design of these pillows that also provides the opportunity to refresh your husks for a longer lasting experience. This allows you to remove hulls as needed to provide personalization, as well as the opportunity for a wider range of sleep positions to take advantage of the pillow.
I found the pillow was very comfortable as a side sleeping choice as is, but decided to play with the comfort of this by removing about 10 cups of filling since I did find the pillow to be rather large. This actually made it an even better surface for me overall, and it prompted me to play with the filling for different sleep positions that I described below.
100% Organic Cotton Twill Cover
The 100% organic cotton twill cover helps define this pillow as a vegan choice as well if that is an important consideration in your product choices. The edges and shapes of the hulls, combined with the fact they are a harder material, dictates that the casing that holds them is equally as durable and thick to avoid a thinning and wear-and-tear of the fabric.
I found this case to be well made with durable, well-sewn seams and a heavy duty zipper that can easily handle the weight of the husks within the pillow. The casing was thick and despite my concerns that I would feel the little bumps and ridges of the husks, these were quickly put to rest the first time I placed my hand on the pillow.
Buckwheat hulls are uniquely shaped with a smooth curve and inner cupped surface. When compressed, they do provide a gentle give but are durable enough to keep their shape, meaning the air between each is allowed to stay present rather than be pressed out. These air pockets promote excellent airflow and breathability, allowing the pillow to stay refreshed and cool through the night. Plus, the harder shell-like texture of the husk keeps them from absorbing or reflecting heat.
Buckwheat husks are considered aromatic, and I, as I described beforehand, was able to detect a noticeable scent upon opening the original packaging- which I figured may have been stronger than normal due to being encased in a non-porous plastic wrapping. Although I personally did not find the smell pleasant, it is considered a relaxing, calming scent to many people. After airing the pillow out for a few days, I could barely discern the scent and no longer found it overwhelming or offensive and slept easy upon it.
Machine Washable and Dryable Case
If Buckwheat hulls get wet, they can be dried out pretty easily, but you most definitely do not wash this entire pillow. The weight alone would probably knock your machines out of balance permanently, plus you run the risk of completely ruining the entire investment. Luckily, the casing is machine washable and dryable, and it is incredibly easy to remove your husks for cleaning.
60-Day Money Back Guarantee
The company offers a great sleep trial with a 60-day money back guarantee if you don’t enjoy or like the product. This gives you plenty of time to play with the fill amounts to find the perfect comfort for your head and neck. It may take some time to find the perfect fill amount for your needs, so having this 60-day trial makes it well worth the investment in order to try it out before the commitment.
Buckwheat pillows are very popular with consumers despite being a very different take on sleep comfort. Many people do try out the pillow for themselves either in hotels or at a friend’s house prior to purchase as they are already aware of the unique design and what benefits they have in store for them.
Complaints are mostly surrounding personal preferences, and the comments were more on the product not being for them- but may be a good choice for others. The noise the husks make, as well as the seemingly “solid” surface, although not a pressure-creating-feel takes some getting used to and may not be the best choice for all consumers.
Despite this, most consumers who put the time into finding their comfort zone with it claim that it is a game changer concerning neck and back stress, and many snorers also mention that it helps in this capacity as well. Others state that this is the closest you can find a customizable pillow.
My Trial Experiences
I was slightly skeptical, but more so intrigued by this pillow due to the overwhelmingly positive reviews I had run across in my research of it. I’m naturally a stomach and side sleeper, which require two different types of pillows for proper posture. Stomach sleepers need thin pillows, whereas side sleepers need thicker, more supportive pillows. Because of this, I tend to lean towards softer, malleable choices that I can flatten or bunch up to tuck under my neck when I shift positions through the night.
Most people do comment on the time it takes to get used to this pillow, and so I made sure to play with and sleep with this pillow for a good month prior in order to really get a good opinion about it. At first, I very much noticed the rustling the hulls make, and although not loud, it was different and took a week or so to not pay much attention to it. The overall feel of the pillow is very firm, although you can shape it to exactly what you need.
I took out about a third of the hulls for sleeping on my stomach to ensure I had a thinner surface and would be better able to shape the fill to my needs through the night. Although I personally didn’t really like it as a stomach sleeping choice and kept shifting to my side, it wasn’t uncomfortable, just different and not something I could get used to. Since, as a stomach sleeper, thin and practically non-existent pillows truly are the best choice, this didn’t much surprise me.
Although at best I simply nap or drift off on my back and never stay long in this position, I liked how I could nestle my head into the pillow and get the hulls well situated under my neck. For my body type, I probably could have taken some of the fillings out for a perfect fit, but I found it very comfortable. Usually, when I try to sleep on my back, I find that the back of my head begins to ache, and my neck will feel stressed. I actually expected to feel pressure on my head with the harder hulls, but I never noticed any pressure points when lying like this, and my neck never exhibited any strain.
This was where it was at for me concerning all-night comfort. This is where I figure out why people rave over what a buckwheat pillow does for them. I took out about 6 cups of hulls or so to find a perfect match for me, and why I described above about how I felt a smaller pillow probably would have been a better match as a standard size pillow, it’s because it just seemed like a lot of area for a pillow to deal with.
Despite this, I loved how well it held my head and neck, and how it allowed my shoulder to tuck up next to the pillow and shape around it. Although the pillow did shape to me well when I placed weight upon it, I found it was most comfortable when I created my own place for my head and neck and then sort of ‘burrowed’ into those indentations to create a personalized fit.
I slept excellently from the first day I used it on my side and can see why this is a popular pillow. Although it is a much different feel than what I am used to, the advice to allow yourself time to get used to it is definitely a good thing to follow.
The claims it makes to help snorers has me intrigued since snoring can be caused by a variety of reasons. Many times, it is caused by poor airway support due to poor body positioning. Since I am not a snorer, I dug up a friend who is, whether they sleep on their side or back. Since his wife constantly complains about the issue, she was more than excited to provide me the feedback.
The pillow was considered fine as is in relation to the filling, so nothing was adjusted for this trial. They used the pillow for both back and side sleeping and said that the noise the hulls made were a little distracting at first, but it wasn’t even noticeable by the end of the first week of use. They too liked to shape the pillow before settling into it and found it a good size for their weight and height (larger and tall).
Although the snoring was not entirely stopped, his wife reported that from what she could tell he never snored while sleeping on his side when using this pillow and also felt that the snoring was not as severe or as often when on his back. I’m going to state that the claims of helping with snoring hold true as it helps to support the body in the proper position.
Despite being impressed with the pillow, I have to admit it isn’t for everyone. Some people aren’t willing to provide the time it may take to get adjusted perfectly, or simply, they may not like the feel and sound of the buckwheat hulls no matter how much time they give it. I personally really appreciate the pillow and seriously slept well on my side, but on those nights, I also wanted to shift to my stomach. It just didn’t make a good choice for that combination of positions.
The quality of the pillow is immediately apparent, and the fact that it is adjustable, and the hulls can be replaced and refreshed makes this a long-lasting product. The scent the pillow gives off does dissipate with use and time. And you can speed the process up if you aren’t a fan of it (like me)by simply airing it out for a day or two. Other people really love the way it smells, so again, this is more of a personal preference but not one that is negative one way or another.
Back and side sleepers will most definitely be able to take the most advantage of this pillow, and I also suggest a smaller pillow size for easier adjustability – just based on the fact that even a standard size pillow is a lot to handle! Heavier or simply larger people may find the standard a perfect fit, and with a 60-day money back guarantee, you simply can’t go wrong in checking it out.
When looking for a unique sleep comfort concerning your pillow, The Hullo Pillow is most definitely worth checking out. The quality of the material, the organic sourcing, and the comfort it may lend to your sleep are all excellent features to consider. Despite being a very different comfort than what you may be used to, taking the time to truly find your own personal feel and allowing yourself the opportunity to sleep with it and adjust it, is well worth the effort.
If you have any questions or comments about the product, please let us know below!